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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  May 5, 2014 12:00am-3:01am EDT

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rich in books, including always running in his 2011 release that caused that. >> host: >> host: of 39 where are we?ar >> at the bookstore in california. >> it is a multi arts and music dance theater writing pla? >> guest: cymbal players, music, dance, theater, writing. we provide classes, performances, festivals. we have workshops as well as bookstores, which is a very important part of the whole litter is the art that we do. >> host: what is your role? >> guest: i am one of the cofounders, also president of the board and is also run by nasa, mostly young people, but had it been my wife who is
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operations director. we have time volunteers here it is a very strong community. >> host: do you run your prester here as well? >> guest: just, we have depressed emotions around for 25 years. now we have the books we sell here. we also publish the book so the prices very much integral to what happens here. >> host: luis rodriguez, how did you get to be chairman of the board of the cultural center? where did you begin your life? >> guest: you know, starting from the beginning, i started in mexico, even though i was born in el paso. a family was from chihuahua. i have to mention that my mother's roots are of the native people there. she was born in chihuahua city in the frontera der in the border. my dad was a mix of now was
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speaking spanish and african community there. and somehow they ended up there on the border and i was born there with my brother and one of my sis her. >> host: why were you born? >> guest: my dad and mom saturday said they wanted to come here. one of the things that was very easy, i know a lot of people make a big deal about crossing over in becoming u.s. citizens, but it was a brave thing to do because they had meant to hear. they were born in the united states would be used as citizens. my dad's goals i want to be u.s. citizen and so that is what happened. i was like two years old and we ended up moving to los angeles. >> host: where in los angeles? >> guest: is a great community. it is very poor, all black and brown. actually to the mostly african-american side.
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gabriel and it was another unincorporated area. no sidewalks, shacks, very poor with chickens and goats and surounded by white neighborhoods and there were two neighborhoods. when you walked into the schools people looked at you like you are from the hills.
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they hated us. and when we started becoming chollows there was no way to escape we were not wanted. >> host: what is that? >> guest: they are mexican gang members coming from the '30s and '40s. they started the first gangs in la with flats and neighbored started around that time and by the time the '50s and '60s they were chollows and had a style of dressing, hats, khaki pants they
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got from the county jail or juvenile hall. we looked different and acted different and had a way of talking that was a hybrid of spanish, english and then new slang. >> host: what is chicano? >> guest: they are the sons and daughters of the mexicans that came over especially after the mexican revolution which people don't realize how impactfull and genocidal that was. it led to people being uprooted and that led to some of us responding into a culture that was gang-like and a subculture of the chicano people. we were rebelling against
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everybody. not just the united states culture, but parents and traditions. and we called ourselves chollo's. it was a word they would give into the indians. lowlife, the worst people. it is like saying we are the lowlife and indians and we are making something to be proud of. >> host: when you look back at being raised in south la what comes to mind? what to you remember? >> guest: poverty. it is one of those things you don't know you don't have. by dad got a job san fernando valley. and we were the only white ones at the time. now it is all mexicans. it wasn't the richest
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neighborhood but for me it was rich. i had a taste the world could be different. all of the white kids chased me home, i got beat up a lot, i wasn't incorporated into the culture. we lost house, car and dad went bankrupt and lost his job. i was seven when i started to steal because i was like i don't have things others do and i want some of this stuff. i would go in and steal all of the toys i could get and put them in my metal roy rogers lunch box because i wanted to have something. so once you see the contrast you see the difference and why are the white skin kids looking like they have it better. and you realize it has to do
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with being doctor. >> host: from your book, drug selling becomes lucrative. a 10-year-old could make $80-$100 as a lookout for dealers. it is cut-throat, profit motivated and expedient. >> guest: most people don't realize gangs are the microcosims but they don't have education and moving up. re-create that world. if the world is bankers, corporations who get money and exploit people, we found a way to do it. drugs were not always part of the gangs. but during the '80s-'90s drugs
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were the one way you could have an economy. you had homies and loyalty and they were perfect for the drug trade. when the drugs came in, the gangs were ready and that is how they got so big particular in la, detroit, and all of the industrial cities that were leaving hundreds of jobs and the neighborhoods were left hanging. and the gang members saw this is the way we can survive. like a capitalist enterprise. you have to thing about the demand and filling the supply and gang members incorporate all of this. >> host: from your book "always running" i will read this quote. i froze as the head stomping came dangerously my way.
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but i was intrigued. i wanted this power. i wanted to be able to bring a whole school to its knees and make the teachers squirm. i wanted what the mystics had. i wanted the power to hurt somebody. >> guest: at 11, i came across the first gang kids. i was broken down, being bullied. no friends. two years earlier i was beaten up and my jaw was fractured. when it healed, it caused it to go crooked and i looked funny with my jaw sticking out and girls made fun of me. and i had no friends. and then this gang called the mystics. they broke in through the gate. they had chains and sticks and
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bats. one had a homemade handgun scaring everybody but i was not scared. teachers were scared. i want that look. i was intrigued and attracted that sense they didn't care about anybody and everybody was scared of them. >> host: what is las lomas? >> guest: it is white people coming from the dust bowl and by the '40s it was mexicans. today they call it hillbillies but the point was it was the poorest area in the valley and when i understand at the time it was the poorest neighborhood in la county. it was very small, but had an
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intense of migrant communities. there were hick's camp, hardene and there were neighborhoods that we were part of and lomas was one of them. some of the migrant families, even though most were gone because by the '60s and '70s it was all mexican. and one or two white families group with us and they spoke spani spanish, too. and we recruited them to the gang. >> host: and that became the name of the gang. >> guest: yes. >> host: gangs start from
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children who demand respect, a sense of belonging, protection. the same thing the ymca and little league and boy scouts do. >> guest: i think it is important for people to know the roots of a gang isn't bad. you have places to take kids if you have resources. you inititate them into a world. you have community that takes care of you and watches out. families that take you places; camping. the gang fills in the gaps. there is a lot of empty in your life and community and the gangs fill it in. the idea of having respect and dignity comes to the fact we are at war with the world around us. the suburban people, the police who were like an occupied army
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because they didn't like us, and neighbored just like us were our biggest enemy. it got distorted. we were mutated human beings and that environment was creating this angry, raging, misshapen person who could have been something beautiful, nice and wonderful in another environment, but in this environment they were a drug ad dicted and hateful purpose. >> host: you wrote gangs flourish when there is a lack of community and unemployment.
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>> guest: people look at gangs like they alaliens but they mak sense. they came up because of no recreation, no jobs, and no decent homes. you get gangs with that. the irish immigrants were the first gangs coming from poverty and famine. you put anybody in these situation you will have a gang member. doesn't matter the race or if you were rich. if you end up in that situation, the root springs out a gang member. >> host: how long were you a gang member and what kind of activities did you participate in?
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>> guest: i started at 11. i got jumped into a small gang and evolved into the big lomas gang. the trouble i got into was behavioral. i was very smart in school and good grades but i behaved badly. the gang gave me a sense of power. i dressed a certain way, walked the halls a certain way, wouldn't listen to teachers. got kicked out of three schools. i was kicked out at 15 and lived on the streets in la and ended up in the garage at my home's -- mom's house. i was in the gang until 18. i started using drugs at 12 from
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huffing any spray to pills to marijuana -- anything i could get ahold of but heroin. we would snort it and put it into the weed and by the time i was 15 i was using it interveneiously. and i kept using it for a year and a half. i let it go when i went back to high school. but after high school i was depressed badly. i got active and we did walkouts and brought in the chicano resource center and studies. i was alive and wasn't using drugs and when i graduated -- i didn't graduate with cap and gown because i missed a year and a half but they gave it to me in the office. and i got depressed because i felt that was my moment and i
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started using heroin again. by the time i was 18 i badly hooked. the turning point was i was arrested for various things at 13. including a murder roll when i was 16 but i didn't do it. at 17 i was arrested for attempted murder which i did shoot somebody but the witnesses didn't show up. at 18, i got arrested for beating up a police officer but i was trying to stop them from beating up a mexican girl in the parking lot. they jumped on me. eight police officers. they could have gotten me eight years per officer. and i am sitting there realizing i am going to spend my time in
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prison, i am hooked on heroin, and i have no friends because they were killed -- 25 of them. i had no more family because they through ew me out. the only person that kept coming was my mentor. he was there no matter what. he was disappointed i would pick up and fall down again but we kept coming. i made a decision, kind of like i am going to go your way. you know what i mean? i realized i don't have anything on my own. he was a chicano actor, radical thinker and i wanted to be a revolutionary like him. i was telling people i don't want to be in the prison gang and no more heroin. withdraws in the county jail were the first time and i said i am done with this.
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i don't care if this kills me. it was a risk and that is when i left the gang life. i decided i'm not going to be this anymore. it took me another year to get better at it. but it was an important decision to make on my own. not that my mentor, or family or anybody else made it. i made it on my own against the gang structure and chains i put myself in and that spider web i was caught in. i had to make the decision to break the chain and web. it worked. it may not work for others. i was lucky that things came in in such a way that they corresponded with my desires. i have to thank my mentor. he had another real name but i
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have to thank him for standing by and guiding me because i needed one person to see who i was. >> host: luis rodriguez, when you leave a gang do you sneak out? >> guest: you don't usually leave a gang because it is your neighborhood. i didn't get jumped out. i wanted to come back and change it and thought let's make this a revolutionary group. i thought we are all in the same hole and i tried to talk to my hommies and say let's stop the warfare and it worked for a while. we had a peace for a while and worked it down and so many people had died. one person called the war the most violent war of alley gangs. two small neighborhoods but we
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were going at it. i believe there were people that didn't want peace. there was a section of the police that didn't want it. i think there is probably a group of the white suburbs that didn't want it because as long as we were in the gangs we could be looked at as an enemy. i was shut out by the hommies and they shot at me because they didn't want the peace. i had to decide if i stay here and get killed or leave. but my mentor said it is time to leave. you stay here and you will get killed. i didn't think it was a bad thing. i wasn't thinking. but he made a good point.
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you want to live. and he showed me the globe and i told him i am not leaving here and saying it is my life. he showed me the global and i could not find it, of course. you see california. la dot there. you can die for this area but die for nothing. why don't you die for something big? that impacted me. i am going to do something big. i left the neighborhood. it took me 20 years to come back. i didn't leave it like an enemy. i had love for the neighborhoods. and most of the guys did. one of the guys who was against me was a police informant i
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found out. when i was running, i came back to the neighborhoods and the family. unfortunately, more people had died. one of my friends lost his of his sons. but the older guys who went through it, saw it, some became heroin addicts but after looking at my transformation they thought they could do it and some are clean. it is a rough neighborhood but it has changed a lot. it has been built up with mansions. but the neighborhood gang is bigger and spread into the flatlands. i think i left like that. not by leaving the gang. but by saying i am going to for something else. >> host: when did you start writing? >> guest: i started writing in jail at 15-16 in juvenile hall.
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when i was on the murder role i was 16 and sat next to charles mansion. it was boring. i started jotting poems and the first version of the poem i wrote appeared in jail. i love to read and one of my saving graces was i loved books. when no body loved books in the neighborhood or my family. i was the only one. i used to carry books and when i was homeless i used to go to the library and spend hours reading. so i had a dream maybe i could write down. i was downtown in the library and looking at the books and
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there were no rodriguez names or mexican names and i had an image of a book there with my name on it. i didn't know that was going to be my destiny. >> host: from your book "it calls you back" the follow-up to your previous book. although i had hard working mexican immigrants youth, my child and youth was punctured by intense street life. at seven i began stealing from the market. my mother stayed at home and when she worked it was in the workshops doing work including piecing. she would work into the we hours
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rattling the whole place each time her foot pushed the pedal, eyes almost close,ingherlifetoscrapsofcloth. i called this machine the monster. >> guest: my dad works in dog food factories and constructions and selling things on the weekend. my mom cleaned homes and worked into the garment industry and that is how they survived. they worked very hard and i have to respect them for that. my mom told me, when i was nin , i picked cotton in texas, when i was nine we had to go work like
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mowing lawn and making dollars. i learned about work. but the problem is when parents work so hard someone falls through crack. all night long . . the cracks. my dad didn't have time to be a father. he was up at 4:30 not home until 9:00 at night. he was too tired. mother the same thing. she was working constantly and taking care of us kids. it was like who is going to fault me. the most dysfunctional or angry or whatever i was i was going to fall. they were not terrible parents. just trying to survive in a world that didn't have the means
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to. >> host: welcome to "in depth" this week we are talking are luis rodriguez. and we will be talking facebook calls. we are at tiachucha bookstore and culture center in sylmar, california. close to northridge? >> guest: it is like the northeast wend of it. >> host: >> host: we want to get you involved as well. you can contact us at the numbers or you can contact us via social media as well. make a comment on our facebook page -- facebook/booktv or our
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twitter page. luis rodriguez is the author of three books. "always running" is the one that put him on the map "gang days in la" and "hearts and hands" a and "it calls you back" is the follow-up and that was a national book critic circle award finalist when it came out in 2011. luis rodriguez, give us a sense of your life from age 18 from today? what was the path you took? >> guest: at 18, leaving the gang, the only thing open to me was work, industry.
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la is the largest manufacturing center in the country. meat packing, steel mills, auto plants -- we had the harbor, shipyards, garment industry. if you didn't want to be in crime you had to work. i was game. and because my mom helped me with the work ethic i was happy. i learned a lot of skills in working. welding, pipe fitting, mechanics, construction working, carpenter -- i learned a lot of skills. i got politically active as well. i wanted to change the world. the justice struggles of the '60s became a big part of who i was. i learned from martin luther king and martin -- malcolm x.
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i took it seriously. i was selling books from my home and i had a pantry full of books and that is what helped me. it helped me being involved in something else. i went into it. study, meetings, and organizing people. i ended up in east la with city terrorist and south pasadena as well. and in the poorest part of the
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pasadena places. now it is very nice but it was a very poor area. i organized people. we had people coming to house meetings. a lot of youth work. and lot of gang intervention work with gangs in the housing projects and gangs in south central and pasadena. that is what kept me from getting in trouble. and that is what helped me and the trojectory stayed with me. when i got out of industries because by the '80s it was gone. i quit by the late '70s. the end of 1979. by 1980, i wanted to be a writer. i was getting laid off, industries were leaving. i worked at a big plant and
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began to step away. i had hoe no writing skills and went to east la school and learned. i started working for the east side sun, getting paid hardly anything. they would let me write articles, take photos and do the photograph development but i had to answer the phone, sweep the floors and take out the trash. that is when i started by writing world. i have been doing it every since. work in newspapers, working in radio -- i did a lot of fr freelancing and writing poetry. and then i never stopped working with youth and community organizing but now is added i am going to be a writer. >> host: family? >> guest: my family started early. by the time i was 20, i married.
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and my first son was born just before i was 21. that was a transformitive thing. you see a tattoo and the boy is covered and he is holding his baby. that could have been me. i said i would be the best bad i could be. i had the madness in the form of rage and addiction. so i raged a lot against my first wife for reasons i would not know. i didn't hit her but just verbal and emotional raging. i would rage against my kids and i didn't know i had ptsd and was responding to the violence i saw
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as a teenager. i would have nightmares and anger. and then i started drinking a lot. i let go of the drugs but i drank. i was being called back to the madness in this form. i had two kids by the time i was 25 years old. because of my rage and issues i abandoned them when they were babies. and that is sad when you make a promise and two and a half years later i abandon them. i had a hard time with my wife. we had a terrible break-up as you know. i almost killed her and my babies. that is how crazy i got. i ended up being more neglect neglectful. i got married with other women,
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living with other people. moving to chicago. my oldest son was troubled at 13 and he was sent to me. and that started the whole process of trying to write because my son was so troubled and resentful that he joined the gun of shooting, drugs and violence. and i realized what happened to this promise? i had to transform myself again. took me a while. i had to stop the drinking. my then my son was in deep trouble and in prison and i made that turn to stop everything. i was 27 years of -- seven years of drugs and 20 years of drinking. >> host: where is your son today >> guest: he got into more
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trouble. we started a youth group that helped many of his friends. but i could not help him. he had his friends living with us. i was with my third wife by then. she tried to be the step mother she could be and he was very hard with her. he had another son who was born. and my daughter came to us but she was troubled, too. and my youngest son was born. and i had all of this hard time with him. he ended up in prison. at 17 he did his first term and at 21 he shot a truck driver and two police officers. he was facing 40 years to life. in the state of illinois you get 20 years per officer and he had two. it was rough. it was painful seeing my son
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going through this. i remember visiting him in the prison there, the county jail actually, it was sad because he told me can you help me? and he knew he had done wrong. but it became a homicidal thing. he wanted to have the cops kill him. he wasn't shooting at them he was shooting around them. and he ended up getting arrested. they beat him up for 11 years. he said can you help me and i felt helpless. and i told him i cannot help you now, son. you are going to do your time. there is no way out of this. took a while to figure out how week help him. he fought for less time and that was a year and a half struggle. he ended up doing 28 years.
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lesser than 48 years to life. but it is still a lot of time. it was sad to convince them. the judge was willing to hear it. we had a study about our family life and got letters from people that wanted to support him. up to 30 people showing up that would be there for him. and the judge took that into account but said the least i can give him is 28 years. my son was like 28 years, 40 years is the same. and they give me 15 minutes to convince him. it was the hardest thing i had to do; sitting there convincing him to take 28 years. in the long run, a life sentence -- there is no way around that. just so you know, the lucky thing about it is he got out in
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half the time with good time was declared unconstitutional doing the whole time. he did 13.5 years of that sentence and got released. my son in prison decided to get out of the gangs and prison and got into his native mexican roots and did ceremonies in the jail and went to sweat lodges and more involved in spirituality. he has been free from everything and he is now in chicago working with little kids and gang members and changing their life around. so you are holding the baby, seeing him go through hell and then see him go through changes
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and i guess he saw sobriety and family intact and said i am going my way now. i am very proud of him. he is a strong young man and went through a lot. and he still has his beauty. and he is not different than other people. he did terrible things and i will not condone the things he did. but he had the part of him that was capable of being a great leader. >> host: luis rodriguez, you say he is gang-free. how prevalent is the gang situation in la or the country today and how significant is it? >> guest: when i was in gangs, it wasn't ever community. la and chicago were the two leading ones because they were
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industrial cities. i saw a map from 1970-present gangs started spreading mostly from la and chicago. bloods and crips became national. and then you had anothers that were spreading. and in chicago you had gangster disciples and you had the sin e single-largest latino gang in the country. and they were being squeezed out because there was more policing, more gang injunction.
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most of these gangs are la or chicago based but other cities. and now they are international. we have taken the culture through music and movies but we have deported the gang kids. you see the la based gangs all oversight -- all over south america and in europe and spain and there is a culture in japan, in thailand believe it or not. even in armania. it is now bigger and organized and has to do with cartels and other elements. we have not stopped gangs with more laws against drugs and prison. we have made things worse than better. >> host: are gangs are dealing with drugs?
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is that the central character? >> guest: over the last 30 years drugs were central. it didn't used to be. but because the economy changed, drugs came into the neighborhoods. guns, there was a number of -- 1980-2000 millions of guns showed up in neighborhoods. you have the worst violence. i heard a statistic in la from 1980-2000 that 15,000 young people were killed from the gang wars around la county. i am convinced me helped contribute to this. it wasn't just dumb kids hanging around. we helped create them. we put them in the prison and they were educated on gang crime. if you don't relab and restoring
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and justice and healing you don't fix people. you create what we have today. >> host: how long have you been sober and do you think drugs should be legalized? >> guest: i have been sober for 20 years. very hard for people to know how hard it is to be sober. my wife would say i was the most out of it when i was sobering up. it is hard to live with someone sobering up. but you get better at it and gather yourself. seeing the terrible things drugs do. i don't like drugs and i don't like people on drugs. but i will tell you drug wars are not helping and the drug laws are not helping. all of the billions of dollars we put to get rid of drugs made
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drugs more accessible. more people are on drugs than before. i would go against all of the drug laws and billions wasted on putting people away. the california prison system would be cut just by giving people caught up in drugs help and treatment. it would be less costly to give them the rehab and recovery. if you are going to be on drugs, get help. drugs, after a while, you cannot control what you do. it really controls you. help people get back that control. you can get over the drugs but you need help. you need community. all of the things we can do that don't cost. you don't need money to create community. you need people that love you. it is hard to get the political will and the people to say we
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are not going to be scared. we are going to go in that direction. we have more people in prison and more. in new york they are relooking at the drug laws and in california after they have done all of this devastatindevastati. we have hold them for years and heres this isn't working. now they are thinking it didn't work. but there is a long way to go and a lot of people that think this is what we have to do: keep people and drugs behind bars, keep the dea and the armies that are now in the communities. we have to stop that. >> host: one more question and we will talk calls. you can get through via social media. booktv@cs[
12:51 am, booktv on twitter is the handle. you write about a lot of personal things. is it tough in >> guest: the hardest thing and most people won't -- why whei d it, i don't know. i took a risk and revealed personal life and it hurts families. i will be the first to admit it and asked my family to forgive me for that. i did it not to hurt anyone but to heal. there are so many families going through there work at home, the physical and sexual abuse, the abuse women go through and it doesn't get brought up especially in this community
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where people silence things. i took a risk to help others. and now i realize it is worth it. but my family didn't like it. i have a lot of families that didn't like it. i have enemy gang members that will never like what i wrote about. but it is needed. 500,000 readers out there. i get kids telling me the book changed their life. i was getting 200-300 letters a year when it first happened. people telling me -- all positive letters. i found a book i can relate to. i go to the schools and kids say it was the only book they read that resinates with them. it was worth taking the risk and putting myself center stage for a purpose. not for ego or fame because you don't get much of that but you
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get can this be a line that can connect to others that can't find the voice or the possibility of getting published. i had the moment where the publishing world and my story fell through. i got well known for it. and people paid attention. and that is important. sacrifice with a purpose. i asked my family forgive me. i love you all but i have to tell the truth of my life. >> host: we will get into your political candidate stance later. but the first call is from john in richmond, virginia. you are on booktv on c-span 2. thanks for holding. >> caller: mr. rodriguez, growing up here in richmond
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there were not many hispanic folks like there are now. especially throughout the south. and the experience between black and brown in the south is positive. i visited places like new york into the northeast they are usually positive. what is the bases of the conflict between black and brown in la? you would think it would be natural allies but there is a conflict with me being from the south i don't understand. can you explain and i will hang up and listen. >> host: john, why do you think there should be an alliance or do you think there should be an alliance between black and brown? i guess john hung up. >> guest: it is a great question. it is an issue. and one people think about los angeles and why is it so hard. but black and brown definitely got along where i grow up.
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if you go now, you will see black and brown kids interacting. i think, this is just from what i get from my experience, most is manufactured in the prison system for the competition, manufactured in the community. i think people pushed the division. i am not saying there are not people that don't like each other because someone might be brown or black. for example, in mexican families, they deny their african heritage. there is probably more african heritage in mexicans than there is spanish. people don't know this. twice as many african slaves that ended up in mexico than spanish. we have afro-mexican communities we don't talk about much but we honor them with traditional
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music from port cities with a lot of slaves of spanish and indigenous people. we honor that. so i think it is an issue of being consciousness that african is in us and we had a history similar. most mexicans are native with native roots and the history of being crushed and loosing your language and names and the temples left abandoned. so i think there is a lot more commonality but i think it is manufactured and a lot comes in the prison. when the majority of the prisons were black and brown. can you imagine if they organized non-violently how powerful it would be?
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it was better to pin them against each other saying you should not ignite. they didn't want me to talk to the crypts and i said why? i don't have issues with them? i had to stand up to a whole group of people that were saying you are mexican and you have to fight black guys and i said i have no issue with them. it could have caused my life but it was worth it to say tell me why i need to fight people because of their color. it is a big battle we have to pay attention to. >> host: we have an e-mail from michael who is reading "always running" i am enjoying and admiring your work but i cringe at your description of anglos
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saying they would rather spit on a mexican than give them the time of day. he said he was raised in southern california and had good relationships with mexican-americans. question, do you believe that anglos as a race feel superior to mexican? >> guest: it isn't just all white people. but there are white people that feel that way. especially when you have the class neighborhoods. the professional parts we were surrounded by with white suburban neighborhoods that didn't have white or brown people. they had a police force call the sheriffs department that worked to crush the people. does that mean all white people
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are racist? no. but at the time there were groups that were running a lot of school boards and we did wno know about it. i never had issues with white people. they beat me up when i was in school, but i didn't see it as all white people. there were white, mean and ugly kids and mean and ugly black kids. most people were not that way. most african-americans were beautiful and friendly and so were the whites and mexicans. but i think there is people that carry that fear and use it. when you are white you use white against each other. my best friend when i left the gang is an italian, jewish guy who is my campaign manager now.
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i have known him for 40 years. i have five grand kids and three are half white -- four of them. how will i hate white people? it isn't a hate toward white people. but it is important to understand the history of the racism and understanding the impact and some people arerace racist and don't even know. i think it is education, knowledge, awareness and the key is that we all have to work together to make this place work for everybody. >> host: from your book "it calls you back" i wanted to die in a palazzo of flurry in the streets but i wasn't dying. i got close but every time i somehow escapeed deaths grasp
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just to keep going. that is just a little bit from his book "it calls you back". the next call is from ugo. >> caller: thank you for sharing your story with us. i am from brooklyn, new york, from the inner city and i know what that kind of environment can bring. you mention your mentor and i think it is important that you reveal the fact he was a big impact on you. my question to you is you hear so often, and i grew up around guys making excuses and blaming other people -- their parent's divorce, poverty, the man -- but they never talk about the people
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that tried to help them and give advice and tried to provide assistance. did you believe that no matter what these gang members there has been at least one person, probably more, that tried to help them and they chose not to listen? >> guest: i will have to say that depends on people. i didn't personal listen to people trying to help me. i know now looking back there were people that wanted to help me. i think what happens when you get caught up in that world you are in that chain and web. and no body gets. you a young person getting id idealized in that world. ...
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>> soog see? i tested them, i gave them a hard time. and they would do exactly what you would expect them to do. here i was going, yeah, see? they can't be trusted. the good thing about him is he did come back. he wouldn't just go for it. but i think we kind of set up, kind of what you're implying, we kind of set up our own prison, our own trap. we don't know that we're
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actually contributing to it. when you get addicted to drugs, the whole world gets built around your need for drugs. when you get suicidal, actually, every signal in the world is you've got to die, you know what i'm saying? it's a beautiful sunrise, it's a beautiful day, you know, your parents, people love you, but everything gets closed in. all i could think about, i gotta go, you know? so i think we ourselves get caught up in those traps that society somehow contributes to, but on the other hand, we take it on personally, and we can't see what's really out there. we can't see that the world is really there, beautiful. there's angels and men to haves and people who -- mentors and people who do care for you. >> host: this tweet from john martin, what age did you hear of cesar chavez and what did you think and feel? he's tweeting in from port charlotte, florida. >> guest: well, i think i learned about him a little bit later than most people knew about him. being in the streets, you didn't
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know about anything. at '65 he became known because of the great boycott, and i was still in bad shape in '65. i think i picked up knowledge about him later when i became involved with the chicano activists and the brown berets that were coming around the neighbor including my mentor who was in the brown berets. they were the ones telling me about our hen today, our leaders -- gente, our leaders. then i could say, wait a minute, there's a guy, mexican, he's very indian looking, and he's in a struggle. so it helped me to see, i guess, the possibilities that i could be somebody like that. that's what's important. so it took a little bit longer because, again, my world was so enclosed, i didn't really know about martin luther king, all these people. i read the books, and that helped me. nobody in my neighborhood knew what was going on except in that few blocks of our neighborhood.
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that was all that mattered to us. >> host: next call comes from dave if albuquerque, new mexico. hi, dave. >> caller: hi. luis, i have a couple questions. number one, i heard that if a gang member had a teardrop tattoo under the corner of their eye that that meant they killed someone. so i'm wondering if that's true. and my second question is, what -- tell me about tattoos in general for gang members. thank you. >> host: dave, why are you, why are you interested in this? >> caller: i just have seen a lot of tattoos and wondered what they meant. >> host: thank you, sir. >> guest: yeah. well, it turned out that the -- [inaudible] gangs were probably the most tattooed groups of kids. tattoos always happen among prisoners, among ostracized kids, sailors and people. so toros, though, took it to another level even 40, 50 years ago before anybody had tattoos.
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i remember the even the little bit of tattoos i had, i was the only one having them. then i started seeing other people, white people, actors, yuppies, i was like, man, we had tattoos like that for years, and people hated us. now they're all loving it. i will say this, what i remember in juvenile hall was it used to represent the year that you did in juvenile hall. then somebody says it represents the number of homeys that died. sometimes you would have a whole string of them. and somebody -- i think it changed. it doesn't necessarily mean that. it all depends what's going on. most killers are not going to tell you how many people they killed, you know? so i question sometimes people says, well, i got five tattoos, i killed five people. i question that. it doesn't matter. the point is people may make it mean different things, but it started off as the time in which you were away from your community, your body or your family. that's the first year.
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then it became your homey that dies, the pain you were going through. and most of the tattoos were because of trauma on the inside and outside to. most of the tattoos were expressing what you couldn't say in words. you didn't have the voice for. you put them on your body, and some of them you could see they were really going through some trauma. even when i had my that toos, people thought what's wrong with you? i was 12 years old when i had my first tattoo, and i remember i made the mistake of going to the beach with my family. and it's actually one on my shoulder. my mom saw it, she was like, ah, what's wrong with you? she got upset, what are you, doing tattoos? i couldn't stop. i actually have had tattoos so long that the last one was five years ago. i keep doing them. but now everybody's doing them, so now it's cool, you know? [laughter] >> host: mr. rodriguez, how many tattoos do you have? >> guest: i've got 13. some are small, and then i've got really big ones.
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who's this on your arm? if you could just hold it there, maybe they could get the camera in on it. >> guest: she's about 45 years old, and she's by indian. my india. today too -- tattooed it to go back to my mother's roots. it's a hitting bit blurry now, but even in those days people imagined the black and gray style, the shading that was done. it was done by chicana gangsters that eventually got picked up by ed hardy and a few ore famous people. and my -- other famous people. my great friend has been doing for 40 years. he's one of the leading black and gray tattoo stylists in the world. they had him on ink master. he's on tattoo nation, all these movies. we were enemies, we used to shoot at each other. we found out he shot at me one time. now we're friends. he's famous for having brought the chicana style tattoo to the
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tattoo world. he didn't do this, but this is one of the styles that i had. she's pretty old now, 45. [laughter] >> host: next call comes from helen in palo alto, california. helen, you're on booktv with luis rodriguez. helen, you still with us? >> caller: the zoot suit nation, a year in the life of california without -- can you hear me? >> host: helen, if you could start again, if you could start again, we missed the first portion of your question. >> caller: okay. my question is -- and, first, i wanted to preface it by saying that i saw so much great drama and theater and films about the mexican -- are you talking to me? i see your face on mute. >> host: don't look at your tv. >> caller: okay. my question is what is the influence of the churches in
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exasperating the problem ares in -- the problems in in any minority and how they protest against birth control and planned parenthood and also government infiltrating ghettos with drugs? drugs are money. don'tty it's only an addiction -- don't think it's only an addiction. wherever there's drugs there's money to take care of it and to put money in pockets of people in power. look what the -- >> host: thank you. i think we got the point. we're talking about, first of all, the churches, role of the churches maybe, and if you would -- >> guest: well, you know, i think again gangs are the marginalized, ostracized peripheral world that gets created when there's a lot of empties. and believe it or not, and this is not for allture of. s, but -- churches, but there are big, nice churches, a lot of people, and they were empty for
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some kids. you know what i'm saying? i was catholic, my mother wanted me to be a catholic. she took me to cat kiss m. i took a picture at 10 years old praying with a rosary. i look like a pious little kid. how is he going to be a gang member a year later? well, there was emptiness in my family, in the community. the gang seemed to fill it. iconography, we would have crosses. this became -- you're carrying the cross of the la vida loca. the cross of the crazy live. we used the church iconography to show who we are. there's a picture of guadalupe, and you can't see, but it says -- [speaking spanish] forgive me, mother. he knows what's right or wrong, but now he's in the chain la vida loca, so he's like -- but i can't help what i'm doing, can't stop, won't do. that's what happens. when you're in addiction, you're in a gang, now you can't help
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it. i do agree with one thing she did say. i do think churches, they can play a very positive role. there's, i saw in the last 30, 40 years a lot of churches uncorporating gang members. working with them, not just judging them. that's important, but a i was -- because i was judged. you couldn't do that. now people are saying the church can incorporate people. that's important. she was mentioning, i do think drugs is money, she mentioned that. and so what happens is not just addiction, it's true. only we participate in the industry by being addicted. we ourselves are wound up in it. but there's a big industry related to the drug cells as well as to the recovery. and that's why it doesn't go away. when you've got big money, nobody's going to want to get rid of that. it's too big for people to just say let's get rid of the drug problems and drug issues. they know people can be addicted and it helps.
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how come alcohol industries can be so big? they know alcoholism's related. not everybody's an alcoholic, but you've got enough of them to keep an industry going. so i think that's part of the story. >> host: well, chester baron e-mails in from gary, indiana, in impoverished communities where does the purchasing power for drugs come from? i can't perceive of enormous profits? >> guest: that's a good question. i live in chicago, i've done talk there is. another industrial city hit very strong with crime. had at one point one of highest murder rates in the country. but here's what i would say, drugs comes into your neighborhood, and it does take money to get it, does take money to buy it. people would do anything to do that. and it creates subcultures, prostitution, for example, stealing, burglary rings. i ended up getting drug money by
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doing burglaries. we actually had a crew of us that would steal as much things as we can, and we would use it to buy drugs. men when you're stealing, you dt steal the big tvs, you just steal the things that are easy, most easily available. cameras, jewelry and hopefully cash. you. >> just think the things that are easy, and then you fence them. you never get what they're worth. you take some jewelry, they'll give you $20 for a thousand dollars' worth of jewelry. you want to get the $10 bag, you know? whatever it is that you need. so the thing is people, peripheral crime related to drugs is what's important. people would steal cars, there's car shops that would chop them down, you get a little bit of money for that. you steal a bike, $200, $300 bike, you get $20 for it. so that's what the crime level gets spread out because you've got to meet a demand. there's people, unfortunately,
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who are so addicted they would steal from their own grandmothers. it's not that they don't love their grandmother, but they won't feed their kids, you know? i know people with kids, heroin addicts, the kids don't get fed because it's all going into the fix. so, yeah, i think there's peripheral stuff that happens when people are drug addicted. >> host: next call for rue byes rodriguez -- luis rodriguez. peter, you're on tv, please go ahead. >> caller: yes, can you hear me? >> host: we're listening, sir, can you hear me? >> caller: yeah, can you hear me? >> host: you know what? we're going to put peter on hold, if we could. let's remind our viewers that once you hear us, you'll be able to just start talking. we're going to move on to jason right here in the san fernando valley, san fernando, california. hi, jason. >> caller: good morning. i'm 50 years old, grew up in l.a. county which if you don't know, is one of many ground
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zeros for illegal immigrant gang bangers. i'm 50 years old, single mother, very, very poor, and to sit here and listen to this guy preach on his high horse of self-victim hood to glorified gang bangers and in any way relate them to boy scouts, you're disgusting. i hear blame and blame and blame, you sound like a professional victim to me. and to say you had ptsd growing up where you did, you should have more respect for people who really do. quit blaming. one thing you're pointing out, it's all pointing back to you. this is disgusting. >> host: that was jason. >> guest: not much more you can say. i think he has to look at himself more than anything. if he looks at me and says, well, i'm my own problem, then he doesn't even look at the war that he's in. and i'll have to be honest with you, i take responsibility for what i've done. i myself, as i mentioned with my
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son, have left gang life, drugs as hard as that might be and even drinking because i don't really think that's the life that brings hope to the world. i'm not in here to say look at me and feel sorry for me. i am not sorry for myself. what i do is to bring hope and change. i think we've got to do it with positive and peace and strength. k comes from. but you can never forget where you came from. you can never forget roots of it. you can never forget what shaped and formulated that. if it was a simple matter that my e duo's so big that -- e gee's so big that i've never done wrong, i'm a flawed human being. but even flawed human beings can do amazing things. even from the heart of violence, and i know this for a fact, comes the peace warriors. i've worked with gang members in el salvador and l.a., bikers, i've worked with racist nazi skinhead kids who have changed
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their life and are now contributing. to me, anybody can change. and that's my work. i don't know what he's looking at. i think he's looking at it with a surgeon kind of glasses. -- certain kind of glasses. he can't see none of the good that i'm saying. that's fine. i'm not going to change that. but i am going to put out there you can't write off anybody, and from the heart of violence, you do get peace from. the worst addicted worlds of policy you do get great thinkers. i wanted to mention a young man grew up in those streets, was from the projects, you know, did that damage, went to prison. now he's one of the leading peacemakers in that community. he works for other gangs, he is helping bring rival gangs together. he goes to the housing projects, and pa coy ma's got housing projects, everything you can think of. can and he's done amazing work. i've seen that happen to people. so that's what my message is. if it's not understood, let's make it clear.
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this message is about hope and change, transformation. it's not about being a victim. i'm the last one to say look at me as a victim. i'm somebody that says no matter what i've been through, no matter what i've done, i can still have a dignified life. >> host: we are at a the bookstore and cultural center in silmar, california, northern san fernando valley. luis rodriguez and his wife trini are the founders. we've got some folks here in the audience, and we have a question from the audience as well. [inaudible] >> host: it is. >> guest: i'm sherry lincoln, resident, and congratulations on all the successes. i was wondering if you could describe your literature event on may 17th. >> guest: so one of the things we do here is we have literature and books. it's at the heart of what we do. we have music, dance, theater. but books are important. even at a time when people say books are changing, but in our
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communities there was no bookstore. if you talk about the northeast valley which 500,000 people in the size of the city of oakland, but there's african-american communities, there's white communities, but majority latino. and there was no cultural center, no movie hughess, no -- houses, no bookstores. thirteen years ago we started this space, now we have all this beautiful artwork. and i don't want to say we did it, but our inannounce helped create a whole mural movement, helped create -- [speaking spanish] we have our own salsa group here that's a resident group. they're economists, but they work with us. we have a young warriors that work with gang kids. so the work is that we're going to take it further now we have this festival. may 17th is the celebrating arts festival, the only outdoor literacy festival in the valley that i know of. somebody says we may be the only
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one still doing that. and it's open to the public. it's going to be right in the heart of pacoyma, and we're going to invite everybody to show up. there'll be music, dance, theater, there'll be poetry, there'll be books, there'll be vendors, community artisans, local artisans come there. sost going to be a celebration of works in all its forks. >> host: and from your book, "always running," we learn a little bit about who tia chucha was: she had this annoying habit of boarding city buses and singing at the top of her voice. one bus driver even refused to go on until she got off. but crazy. to me, she was the wisp of the wind's freedom, a music maker who often wrote song lyrics, told stories and recited dirty jokes. she would come unexpected and often uninvited and burst into
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our house with a guitar across her back and a bag pull of presents including homemade colognes and perfumes that smelled something like rotting fish at the tuna cannery. i secretly admired tia chucha, the post creative influence in my childhood. >> well, it's very important, because we named this place for her. she was the relative that didn't fall into the boxes, the traps. she was creative, she was inventive, she used to do poetry, create her own proverbs, create her own songs. she had a guitar on her back. she would come visit different family members. she was a hard person to deal with because, again, she would do these kind of crazy things. we could only stand her for a week or two before she had to move on. but to me, it opened up my imagination. my family, there was always internal turmoil, but we always
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had this kind of image of you be quiet, don't say nothing, let people say only the good things. my tia didn't care. she had no filter. you know what i'm saying. and it's an amazing quality in people. she was crazy in a certain sense, but i admired that. part of me was let me be like that. so we're honoring that spirit of those people, those creative relatives that maybe the crazy relatives everybody has in their family. we're honoring that spirit of just being, letting go and not get stuck in the very traps that all of us fall into. >> host: tony, new jersey. you are on booktv with luis rodriguez. >> caller: hello, mr. rodriguez. how are you today? >> caller: doing good. >> caller: mr. rodriguez, i was identifying with your lack of mentoring your father worked a lot, and i have nine brothers and sisters. my parents both worked a lot. and the connection to that and your recovery, and i was also interested in what you said
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about the money involved in the recovery and the mentorship and the recovery altruistic movement turning into a profitable situation, and i'd just like to get your thoughts on that. i'm in recovery as well. thank you. >> guest: well, that's a very important question because i think a lot of people think, well, if you are an addict, you're an alcohol alcoholic, you're life-long in prison trap. but i do find there's a liberating way to get through it. it's kind of putting the pot back in your hands. what happens with drugs, with gangs and violence, you turn it over to others to other things. you turn life over to heroin. your body's caught up in it, you need it. you turn your life over to alcohol, other things. my whole point is we've got to learn to own our life. i want to address about being a victim, because all of us are
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victims. it's true. i don't want to deny that. but what makes it different is that you start owning your life, you start taking back your life that has been taken away through violence, taken away through neglect, abandonment, betrayal, all these things we go through. you start taking it back. and eventually you start owning what happens to your body. i'm a very addictive person, so i know i have addictive qualities. but at the same time, i'm empowering myself to say i'm not going to be that person. i know that if i drink, i'm a mutant. and i don't want to be that person. i know if i drink, i will hurt people, and i don't want to be that person. so it's a big struggle, a lifelong thing. one of the things that helps me is that i get up and give thanks every morning, because addicts are ungrateful, you know? they just never think of it. i give thanks that i made it. another morning i'm sober, another morning i have my family, another morning i can do something beautiful in this world. so even though inside of me there's rage, there's mutant
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qualities, there's part of me that just wants to tear everything up, it gets held back because i'm open now to all the blessings that come into my life. and i have to look at that and see that's where i'm going towards. it's like i made a decision. i'm going towards the way of my mentor and my teachers. i'm going towards the way my family, my wife and my kids, i'm going towards others that are decent, tia chucha ises. if i just went to my selfish way, i wouldn't be the way i am. all these great examples around me that i need to do this says now i'm blessed, now i have something to be grateful for. that helps in my recovery. >> host: in your book, "it calls you back," you write about the fact that you hid your sobriety from your wife, trini, for a while. >> guest: yeah. my sense of it, i was so messed up. i really thought if i told trini, she would leave me. and, of course, i didn't
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realize -- well, i did realize. i was already hurting her by not being home, by drinking all night long, by not sharing nothing with her. but i was not sure how -- well, i went to a recovery program, and it spoke to me. i've been to na, aa, and it wasn't working. i went to another one in chicago, and it just spoke to me. maybe at the time it was right. i started going to these meetings without telling her. and i decided, well, i'm going to try not to go to the bars. it was hard. when i finally did tell her, it was at a point where i had gone enough to say i'm going to this. i'm not drinking anymore. but i'm going to recovery. and it was quite painful. i remember i cried, and it was hard for me to tell her. and i really thought that what she would do, which makes sense to me, was i'm going to leave you. i don't want anything to do with you. she didn't. she was very beautiful. she cried with me. she held me. of it was like, it was wrong for me not to include her, you know?
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but i think it's important that at least i learned that i should never underestimate nobody and never take anybody for granted. trini i took for granted for so long, and she actually stood up to my new sobriety to end with my son, to help with my young sons. she became the best mother possible for these kids. so people do step up. and i'll tell you something else, when we have tiachuchas, she stepped up. she learned the hard way, she learned by doing it. and guess what? she made place. now with a beautiful staff, she made this place. so ever take anybody for granted. >> host: and trini is with us, she's in the second row with the dark hair and the glasses. if you could just wave very quickly so we can see. we'll get you somewhere on one of these cameras. of we have another question in the audience.
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hi, luis. recently there's been publication, so why do you think we should have diverse books? >> guest: well, it's, to me so important because we're just diverse people. in fact, honoring who we are, we're not one kind of people, we are not one kind of culture. even when, even when the word anglo, people use anglo, and i've used it before, it's really a misnomer. there are irish people that will tell you i'm no anglo. but we do that. we start put them in boxes. and so what happens is i think i that diversity of our culture keeps us alive. i think it's' what's rich in the united states. we have so many people starting with the irish and polish and everybody that came over, jewish communities, everybody. but also with the african-americans that were brought here, as you know, by force and also the asians and all the cultures that come. l.a. is like the world's city. you don't come to l.a -- you
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meet everybody in world here. we have the largest mexican community, the largest -- [inaudible] the largest vietnamese communities are around here. in other words, we are the world. and so the diversity needs to be respected in our schools. why go to schools and all you see is the european end of the culture? and i'm not saying we shouldn't learn that, and i'm not saying that's not valuable, i'm just saying it's much more richer than that. we have more to offer and more to learn. i didn't learn about the mayan world until i was older. i didn't want even know it was part of our -- i didn't even know it was part of our culture. i learned to paint murals because i learned about them from books. mayan murals, nobody ever taught me this. i never learned that in school. so my thing is let's learn it in school, let's take it to our kids. 75% of kids in l.a. schools are either mexican or central american. do they know their culture?
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to make sure that people know where they come from. >> host: and here at tia chuchas there's many spanish books, but luis is also the author of many children's books. "it doesn't have to be this way: a barrio story." is this written in english, spanish or both? >> guest: it's actually written in english. i tried to do the spanish and then my wife, who actually is a formally trained spanish speaker, happy helped with the trans-- helped with the translation. ..
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>> host: we are here at the tiachucha and we have our next guest from chattanooga. you have been patiencpatient. thank youiole. . >> caller: i want to say i hope you do well in your political period. mr. rodriguez, if you will feel like a drug like marijuana would be better legalized and that money made, which is billions of dollars that is being made just on marijuana, if that is something that should be legalized and that money turned around and a portion set out
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educate about harder drug and the process of how gangs and communities do this to make money to fund other activities. i think legalizing would be best. what do you think on that? >> guest: i support legalization of all of the drug laws, particularly marijuana. i know colorado and washington is taking big steps. california is taking some. i think we are in the in between time. some states saying it is okay to have medical marijuana and grow under conditions but you have people being arrested. a good point mitchell alexander made about this. this isn't against white people but white rich people making money off marijuana are doing well-won -- well-won but you are
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the mexican kids still being arrested. some people are being attacked and hurt by the laws and some are allowed to have marijuana. we ought to even it out. if we are doing it, make sure everybody can do it. and put the resources and money into treatment. i don't like drugs. i am not supportive of drugs. but i hate the laws that have made drugs more available and kept like a foot on the neck of the poorest communities. >> host: if you are on the line, stay on the line. we will show you first what luis rodriguez is reading now as we continue with "in depth."
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>> here is a quick peek at upcoming book fairs happening around the country. the south carolina book fair is taking place from the 15th-18th. james cly burg will be there. and then we will be talking with authors at the trade show in new york city. and live from the chicago lit fest on june 7th and 8th. check back for more information on coverage.
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let us know about book festivals and fairs in your area and we will be happy to add them to our list. >> here is a look at the best selling non-fiction boog according to the wall street journal. "flash boys" is at the top of the list. we hosted a call-in interview with the author. and then diet doctors, and jesus calling and paul stanley's book face the music and the life exposed. the fifth book is strength finder 2 .0 and in sixth the women of in duck commander. at number seven, a history of the conservative movement in big
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tent. we covered master's talk in april. next is miracles now. and followed by in ninth simv is killing jesus and thrive wraps up the list. these are some of the current be best-selling non-fiction books according to the wall street journal. >> host: and back live here at tiachucha in california with best selling author, community activist, poet, and political candidate, luis rodriguez. one of the books you listed is
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down those mean streets. what is that book? >> guest: it was written in the '60s. he is a writer and one of those books when you pick up it changes you. he was an addict, in a gang and in and out of trouble and jails. and more intense than what i was going through. but i related to it. it was so poetic. the way he wrote and the love stories and girls and the struggles i was going through. everything i was doing relating to girls was awkward. no sense of guidance and just a very dumb kid trying to be in the world that wasn't planneded out for me. and when you read a book like this is it is he is in new york city and harlem. just like malcolm-x's book. that spoke to me.
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i met him and he was a good friend. he passed on recently. rest in peace. he has been good with helping others. we did a poetry reading together and i was in tears. i was reading poetry, he was reading his work and he is my hero standing next to me. >> host: what is the significance of poetry to you? >> guest: i didn't know i was doing poems. when i was 18 and still on drugs, trying to get out of it but still there, i ended up at berkeley for a poetry reading and i heard people like the chicano god father of poetry and the
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they were reading together and it was powerful and woke me up. they got me by the throat and shook me and said wake up you are a poet. it woke me up and thought maybe i could do this. since then i have been doing poetry. i went to school to learn it, readings, workshops, poetry sessions. in 1980, i started going to prisons, even though i went through all of the trouble, i never did the big time, i went back and did workshops at prison and going to prisons all over the country and working with people doing writing and workshops and readings and a lot of that was me finding the voice that poetry can bring out. the language i loved. can you mess with it and play
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with it and the emotional power that i think poetry has that sometimes isn't always in the other kind of writing. >> host: when you do writing workshop what is the main message? >> guest: i want to point out that everybody has it in them. everybody is a poet. so we try to bring it out. we do metphoric things long you describe the forest but in front of you is a road and tell me about the road. they get descriptive. the road is a nice beautiful thing or scary thing or maybe they don't want to be on the road or they forget the road and go somewhere else. all of that represents where they are at in their life. i use the exercises that allow people to tap into the their psyche and spirit and soul through images and it comes out and they are all poets. >> host: from hearts and hands creating communities in violent times; four ways to live an a
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tonmous presence. be authority, compassionate, be a special kind of artist and be a warrior and finding for what right. number three, be a special kind of artist? >> guest: we are all artist. people say artist are a special kind of people and the saying is we are all special kind of art. and expand the idea. it isn't just painting or expanding. there is art in teaching. there is art in mechanic. i had people say i don't like art, i like cars. and i said there is an artwo to working on cars. your passion is your guide. maybe it is song, dance,
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combination even. some people have 2-3 passions and some never find any. but i think everybody has one. be that specific special artist you were meant to be. >> host: and be a warrior fighting for what is right in your community. politically how have you done that? >> guest: i have to go back to the young man. i am not changing my life only. that is part of it. but you recognize what allows you but i have to help others. i have helped kids get off gangs, help get off alcohol, drugs, and i bring out their
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poetry and their stories and politically i am active because i want people to know social justice is still threaded in me. we have to change this world. if we are in a world with violence, no jobs, people loosing homes, parents working 2-3 jobs, where there is poverty when there shouldn't be. the ultimate victim is the one that says it is the way it is, i cannot do anything about it. but when you say it is what it is but i can help change it that is powerful. it takes consciousness and awareness and connection. that is what i try to do. get people to see you have great transformation and change and hope and also help change the wor world. make the world better that you came out of. >> host: vice president nominee
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2012 and candidate for governor california green party. >> guest: i am glad i got into the process. it is hard. i don't think the democratic process is democratic. i think two parties speak and it takes big money to be heard. and most people say that is not democracy. i am returning because i want to unveil the undemocratic nature and i have a platform of a better environment. clean and green and the end of the poverty and true social justice. those are the pillars of a decent process and i am going to make the process meaningful. it isn't enough to say it doesn't work. how do we make it meaningful?
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the phone numbers are 202-585-3880 202-585-3881 and we will popped the e-mail. chuck, you are on booktv. >> caller: i heard you say a lot of law enforcement members are against the gangs. i am retired law enforcement and worked a lot of gangs. i saw a lot of law enforcement officers trying to talk young gang members out of it and asking them why. in regards to california, they are not allowed to use drugs but sell it to the hispanics.
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there is a lot of problems with gangs and drugs and i agree with the statement that the war on drugs never worked but we never know if it will work until after the work. but my question for mr. rodriguez is maybe he should point toward law enforcement working because all of the members i met talked the kids out of gang members and i wish he would show appreciation toward law enforcement for their help, too. >> guest: let me just say that i know that to be true. but i will have to point out, and i am not going to them off the hook, just like i don't let my dad off the hook, it was an occupied force and it was being used against us. i lost five friends to police in one form. all unarmed, killed by police.
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one died trying to escape police. do i know there are police officers that care? yes. over the years i have seen a massive change in law enforcement especially in l.a. where they were known for the hammer and corruption. even the sheriff's department 18-21 got arrested for the violence and beatings in the county jail. there is search deputies arrested for doing drive-bys which i wrote about in the book keeping the gang war going. not every police officer is doing that. i believe there are some decent ones and i worked with them. i know a guy who was one of the nicest guys in the world and he was a police officer.
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i know a guy in kansas city who helped create a continuation high school for kids and he is a police officer. he did it after hearing me speak. he heard me speak and became a police officer because of me. so there is hope. but i don't want people to forget and say it isn't seizeea trust the police officers when we have this history. let's see what else we can do to give people the help they need. i challenge all police officers to work with the kids and give them resource and helping hands and don't just put them away. >> host: from hearts and hands you write in one predominantly mexican school in chicago zero tolerance resulted in the
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removal of a third of the student body, another third dropped out before the senior year and as a result, the graduation class consisted of 1/3 of the students that entered as freshman. they got rid of the problems by getting rid of the students to save the institution. what sense does that make? >> guest: going back to the police thing. we had the mentality that doesn't work. the zero tolerance, put them all away. these are things that have premated the policies and politic and they hurt. i am witness to it. i have been fighting it for 40 years. now there is an opening and people are saying maybe we should not have zero tolerance. but those examples were the way they were dealing with it. instead of dealing with trouble, yesterday a young person mentioned i am positive trouble. that is a good way of putting it. all trouble is real. everybody is troubled.
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even the guy saying how dare i talk about gangs i am sure he is troubled. all trouble can be positive, though. all trouble can be turned into creative, contributing things. i was very troubled and so was my son. and i am still a troublemaker but in a different way. now i am doing it through running through office or through my books. there is way to do this so we cannot have zero tolerance. guide, teach, mentor the kids, don't give up on them, they are going to give you hell and test you but you wake up and you are there. and you don't have to take all of the non-sense you you are
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still there. >> host: we have a question from the audience. >> my name is michael ray and i y was part of the rushing waters, rising dreams. and my piece was mothers garden. i want to say thank you for that. it was nice to give my voice to the community. how does art education and functional literacy create transforming spaces and in relation to the governor's position you are running for what does that look like on the state level? >> guest: i have to say again how important the arts are. they are transforming people. i have done it with the most troubled kids. in san salvador and in southern
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england with caribbean prisoners. we did it here also. i believe in the arts as a heel healing thing. if you put more money in the art and les in the drugs and prison you will help the communities. have people learn skills and have them be expressive that is one thing. second of all, how i see it as policy is i call it a neighborhood arts policy. i think every neighborhood should be alive with the arpt art. the art is out there. we didn't have to create the artist. we just gave them a place to gather and express. once we had that people came out of the woodwork. i have been through the worst neighborhoods. i am telling you. you have to go to camden, new
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jersey and north philly and south side chicago and they have to go to east l.a. and fresno and see how the artist is always there and we need the spaces to let them come out. i think it is powerful and we can be a part of that and we can get the that message everywhere. i would make sure there was a policy every neighborhood have access to the arts. >> host: simon is calling from california. hi, simon. simon? >> caller: yeah. it is -- >> host: please go ahead with your comment. >> caller: my wife is a mexican national born in mexico and exposed the gap between
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mexican-americans and mexicans where in her view the world is like when mexican-americans are around a person from mexico it is like they are americans and when they are around americans they become mexican. and i have had mexican americans accuse my kid you are not mexican even though your mother is from mexico you are white. i was wondering if you had ideas about that or been subjected to that. and when i was in school in the '60s, we studied latin american and that was a school at oxnard so maybe it was different than the rest of california. >> host: any comment for that caller? >> guest: i think it is true. i think people divide them shelves.
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there is a border that comes along and native people don't relate when there used to be for tens of thousands of years relationships. i came as a native person and they would not accept me i was from south of the border. i said the border just came in. now native americans are accepting. i do ceremonies in navaho land and i did a presentation on native american cosmology and taught in mexico and they are open and beautiful about it. we have been divided. i agree with him on one level. when i was growing up, i spoke spanish but i was chicano and born in texas. but i related to the spanish-speaking kids.
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and people would say don't hang with them. they are not like you. and i was like what in the world? how can you not like your own people? they speak spanish. they are our people. your mother speaks spanish. a lot of chicano gangs were anti-mexican. that happens across the border because i would go across the border and they will say you are not spanish. they would use a word that means wa washed out. so we were discriminated by americans, over the border and then battling each other. you can see how we get real with each other. whatever he is pointing out is symptomatic of how people react.
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people shouldn't be putting each other down. this is what we have to overcome. the barriers and the things that are eating at us. ... >> guest: they had beautiful gardening. that's what i didn't learn. i didn't learn that they had
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beautiful religions, you know what i'm saying? all i learned was that they were heart stealers, and they were empires. i know for a fact now it was not really true. but point is, didn't matter. that's what they teach you. i'm going to clarify that. i did learn something about aztecs and my januaries, but i didn't -- mayans, but i didn't learn the truth about who they were. >> >> host: luis rodriguez, we seem to have an ongoing conversation about immigration. >> guest: i'm not saying immigrants aren't important, but everything shouldn't be focused on us. i do think it's an anti-native thing. in other words, they're looking add the brown-skinned people. i have a white mexican, white, blond-haired guy who has a funny story how when years ago, he's an older man, when he was in texas, he was mexican. he didn't even speak english, but he had blond hair x. remember how they had the buses where all the mexicans and blacks were in the back?
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the bus driver said all mexicans and blacks went to the back. he went to the back. the bus driver says, where are you going? you're white. he says, to, i'm mexican. and threw everybody for a loop. i think what we're looking at is trying to deny a -- indianize the coming back of the native in this country. the cosmology's different. day of the dead is a much more native, vibrant thing than even halloween, you know what i'm saying? so there's a contrast that we're bringing here. even if some of us don't remember what tribes we're from or even names -- [inaudible] i think it's an, it's against that part of the world, that part of america. the other thing i'm going to point out is that the migration is global. poor people are are going to the northern country. it's not just the u.s. and in europe for years i was
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surprised how many black and brown people are there. mostly from the mideast, northern africa. you know, africans in europe are undocumented. i had african-americans say how come all undocumenteds are mexicans and brown people? i said, go to europe, they're africans. he didn't even pay attention. there's poor people that are going to countries that are richer. we should look at the global ramifications of why that happened. so look at immigration in this country. my thing is people don't want to -- [inaudible] after nafta happened, even more came out here. the big agriculture, corn industry was competing with small little cornfields. the mexicans couldn't catch up. they lost their own cornfield. corn was born in mexico, and now they can't even grow corn. so a lot of people came up here to live, to survive. they didn't come here because they think america's the greatest country in the world. maybe some. they always had this creme i'm going back, they couldn't go
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back. their kids live here, now they're in this country. so my thing is we have to honor and respect all of us. the reason we're here, whatever brought us here whether slave ships, whether it's the famine many ireland, whether it's what happened in china, whether it's all the poverty in latin america, we're here for a reason. we're here, and we should work together to make this place the microcosm of what's possible or what's good, what's imagine incentive and i how we can live better as human beings. >> host: from "always running," you write: coughing us up, us immigrants, as if we were fellow stuck in the collective throat of this country. my father was mostly out of work, my mother found work cleaning homes or in the garment industry. she knew the corner markets were ripping her off, but she could only speak with her hands and in a choppy english. the next call for luis rodriguez
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comes from monica in fresno, california. monica, you're on booktv. please go ahead. >> caller: thank you, peter. hello. [speaking spanish] mr. luis. whether you are what carlos santana refers to, a weapon of mass compulsion. i thank you for that. we need artists, we need thank ors, we need doers. my question or problem that i'm just dealing with over here in fresno, california, is i see a lot of community buildings that have been shut down. i see a lot of different resources that are not being pooled and used. i also do see a lot of things going down for gente. but i guess my question would be is how can we prevent a culture, and you did mention it earlier before i actually got on to ask the question, but i'll go ahead
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and say it because i have no other question to ask, how can we prevent the culture of violence for our youngsters coming up? we have, we have the media that we could use, instead, it's glorifying, you see young vatos glorifying barrio life as, you know, money, and it looks glamorous. but the truth is it leads to, it leads to nowhere unless, unless somebody like you wakes them up. and what i want to foe is what can we do -- what i want to know is what can we do to prevent this issue that we have, the cycle that is never ending? we, you know, the whole issue of zero tolerance and all we do need to deal with that. how do we get these kids not to be on the zero tolerance list? thank you very much, keep up the good work. >> guest: thank you. >> host: monica, i should say.
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okay. monica in fresno. >> guest: well, you know, i think a lot of it is education. but i'd like to expand the idea of education. obviously, schools are important. people should be able to have colleges, universities, they should have expansive amount of education. but i think education also comes from family, from the streets, from community. i felt that i'm educated when i'm talking to the kids on the corner, when i'm trying to help people. i have to see myself as somebody that gives consciousness, awareness and connectedness wherever i go. so i think that's what's needed. a lot of the kids were disconnected. they're alienated from the world. and anybody that wants to just kill others and kill themselves in the process are totally disconnected from what's there my indigenous roots shows that we're all tied, we're all one. there's a word among my mother's tribe -- [speaking in native tongue] that means we are one. almost everybody has that. the mayans have -- [inaudible] which means i'm the other you, you are the other me. these are beautiful concepts
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that we have to get back to. and now it takes teachings because we have a fractured economy. we have a world, a culture that's fractured. we have a world that isn't congruent in the sense that people can make a lot of money over here and a lot more people have to be poor just so that can happen. fresno's a good example of a community that's hard scrabble, that has no jobs. it's one of the poorest five communities in the whole country in the midst of the richest country in the world. and the richest state, the central valley. there are riches, agriculture. do you see what i'm saying? i think we have to teach people from the incongruency comes from and how they themselves can begin to forge and make a new world. i'm thinking about a world that aligns all the resources, i'm thinking of a world that makes sure everybody's taken care of, that every community's healthy. we don't just take care of a few, but our attitude is the best way to take care of a few is to make sure that everybody's got healthy, thriving communities. that means my community will be
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thriving and healthy as well. >> host: how often do you write and where do you write? >> guest: well, my goal has been two hours a day, every morning. it doesn't always get there, but i find if i don't write regularly, i'm really lost. that is my passion, that is my centering. i find that i am more whole when i'm writing. this is when you know you're in your art. i'm whole. i may be not so whole at other times, other places. sometimes i'm not always there with the family, but when i'm writing, i'm there. i'm in tune. it's a tune we all need to get to. it's like tuning a guitar string, you know? you kind of have to be on tune. life does that. every once in a while get yourself tuned. when itune up for my life, my day, my writing, again, i don't always get to it, sometimes i only can write for a few minutes, but i find that's a good goal; start early in the morning. what's happening now i get up early, i read or whatever, but
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if i get in front of my computer, i'm writing. it could be a poem no purpose, it could be an article for a huffington post piece, part of my next book, just an essay, all kinds of reasons i need to write. >> host: what is the book that you're working on currently? >> guest: well, i have three books if mind. poetry is no money making. i just love it. it's begin me a lot of notoriety. i love the poetry. i have a book that i hope when it comes out, could be powerful. i always have fiction. i've got one short story collection, one fofl that's not as well known. i love it. i want to do short stories about chicago. chicago is my second home. i love chicago. i lived there for 15 years. i'm an l.a. guy, but i've got chicago in my blood. so it's kind of like i want to do these stories. and i also want to, hopefully, consider a book of essays on some of these talks that i've been sharing here, to put it in writing similar to what we did
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with "hearts and hands" which, again, has more of that end to it. it's more my thinking, what have i learned, what did i get to do something similar with another kind of book. >> host: you mentioned chicago, our next call comes from a gentleman names ramiro. please go ahead. >> caller: hello, mr. rodriguez, this is your son. >> guest: my son. did you hear all the terrible things i said about you? [laughter] >> caller: i just wanted to say how very proud i am of you. i also think that you've been talking about the movement. i think it's very important not just for people if california, but for chicago and nationally because of where you come from and how, you know, like me -- [inaudible] the struggles that i've been through and a lot of other young people all over country. you know, you're our mentor, somebody we look up to, you're somebody that we can strive to
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become not exactly like you, but to become in that position where you're in where we can make a difference also in ore people's lives. you've changed my life so much, and i just want to thank you so much for everything that you've done. even though i wasn't the easiest son, you never gave up on me, and that's what's helped me to be, you know, a positive mentor in chicago. so, you know, you mentioned 15 years here, you understand some of the intricacies, the politics, and right now there's a term for chicago, it's called chiraq, which honestly i know a lot of people don't like calling it that. chicago's beautiful. there's culture, there's diversity, there's the families, but because of all the violence that's happening regionally, like this past weekend we had 40 shootings, six of them were kids. you know, we have a lot of killings, and this is happening almost every day.
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so since, you know, you have some roots here, how do -- what are some of the answers or some of the solutions that you feel that we need to do here not just as individuals, but as a community, politically, you know? this is not just, you know, we all know this is happening for a reason. >> host: ramiro, before we get your father to answer, if you could, two questions. what do you think about a lot of your life and some of the negative aspects of your life being played out many your dad's books -- in your dad's books, and tell us about yourself today. >> caller: oh, okay. [laughter] well, you know what? he talked about me a little bit earlier, you know, the things that happened in our lives have to come out. because if we don't face those thing, they become -- they fester. they become part of us. that becomes our anger, that
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becomes explosive. he pretty much forced me to face the things that i never really wanted to face in my life, which has helped me. yeah, you know, look, i spent years in prison, i was in gangs, i did a lot of -- [inaudible] but you know what? at the same time, i'm here surviving, you know what i'm saying? i'm a part of the community. i'm bringing positivity to my community. i'm a mentor to young people. you know what i'm saying? i'm bringing a positive light to the darkness that has existed in my own life, you know? and that comes from facing these issues, this negativity that you're talking about. it's all negativity. from your perspective maybe it was negative because that's what you guys are looking at, but from us that lived in that kind of world, that's all i we knew. that's what our world was. they haven't heard -- [inaudible] you know, fighting, whatever, but this is what we were, this is what we love, this is who we are, this is what we represented. of course, it's -- i also know
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this is not the past for me. that's why i've changed my life through guidance from my far. i'm a positive person. i don't drink or do drugs. i stay here embedded into my community, but if a positive way. i don't -- [inaudible] the guys and girls from my hood. i work in a restaurant right now in my neighborhood. but you know what? i come at 'em in a different way. i come at 'em trying to get them jobs, trying to help them through school. sometimes if i've got a little wit of money out of my been bit of money out of my pocket, i'm struggling myself, but they know i'm here. i'm still here. but i'm doing it in a different way. that same energy and passion t life is now what i'm giving to saving these kids' livesot/ in my community. >> host: thank you, sir, for calling in too. >> guest: well, it's great to hear from my son. we went through a lot.
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being a father is a hard thing in our culture because i don't think we remember what it's like. we don't know, we forget. and i have to give him credit because he, he says, well, i didn't give up on him, but he didn't give up on me either. you know, we were really having a rough time, and even when he was in prison, i remember one time he called and was jumping on me for being such a terrible job and then i told him, well, okay, son, but you weren't such a good son either. i told him, you know what? why don't we just stop this nonsense. i anytime i was a terrible dad. let's just stop it. let's just love each other now. let's just change. that's not easy. and when you tell people to change, you can't make that like a panacea like a magic wand. but you know, the struggle to change itself is beautiful. even though the hard days -- and
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i see my son, i'm very proud of him, because i see what he's gone through. i know the terrible things he's faced, the abuse he had from other guys. he had more neglect from me even though when i used to hit him when i shouldn't have hit him, he had abuse from other guys. his poor mom, too, and i want to give her credit, because she stood by. another troubled young person. and she stepped up. so it's good to hear him. i think one of the things that helps a lot is we went on a trip last year. he got off parole, so he could finally come to california. and the this crazy -- [inaudible] that he wanted. i helped him with it, and and we drove all the way from chicago
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to california. and, you know, it was one of the most beautiful trips. we came with a friend, a puerto rican poet, and we had a great time. and i never argued with him once. we just had a great time talking, sharing s and my son has become wise in his age. he's become a wounded healer. and that's partly what i'm saying. it's important to point out we're all victims, but it's also important to point out that in our wounds we can make the change. and he's become one of these people. and we were able to do poetry. now he's a poet, my son. so anyway, i want to just thank him. he is sincere and honest in that. i think the issue when he was in the gang, he was rough, he was mean, he was angry, he was violent, but he is honest and at peace, and that's important. because i had to go through that. and i've seen other people do it. but to see my son, it's powerful. it's really what we're talking about. and i don't want to apologize for the tears because i think it's part of what we forget.
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i never cried for a hong time. i was told not to cry. a man shouldn't cry. but man tears are important. they're tears of your feminine aspect, they're tears of being fully human, of being whole. it's important. anyway. thank you, mariro, or thank you -- ramiro, thank you for everything. >> host: you're watching booktv on c-span2, our monthly "in depth" program. this month social security best -- it's best-selling and award-winning author luis rodriguez. we are live from tia chuchas in northern california, in san fernando valley, and we have a studio audience, and we have a question here from a studio audience member. [speaking spanish] >> i'm a community organizer
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raised in a beautiful migrant community with people full of hopes and dreams and culture but also full of traumas and going through violence. and so when i grew up, there was no space, there was no place to go to find artists and myself, to find the organizer in myself. so when tia chuchas opened its doors 13 years ago, i find that space and many other people. so tia chuchas has been the space where minds meet for a change, where the arts transform our community into something positive. it's been, it's been a hard thing to do, and i know there's been a lot of investment and sacrifice from you and your family. but it's something that has changed our community into now a beautiful space. so my question is, what can
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people in this community and other communities do to support, to maintain the doors open of tia chuchas bookstore and those that don't have the privilege of having a space like this, what can they coto get it started? >> well, one thing i would hope that we could be an example for anybody. we have a beautiful book and a film called "rushing waters, rising dreams: how the arts are transforming a community." that's available, and anybody that wants it, just contact us so that you can get a copy and/or get book. because it really, it illustrates the possibility within every neighborhood. pa coy ma, as you know, is as rough as any place can be and didn't seem to have a lot going for it, but as we've found, there's richness in poverty. the richness comes from people's spirit, from their creativity, their hopes and dreams and hard work. we've got to get people to understand that it's already
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existing there. it's not, it's not a world that we have to go outside of ourselves so much for. we have it within us. so i would say that that's the key to tapping into what's already there. and to get this in every community, that people look and say where's by community? where's the festivals? where are the muralists? where are the public art pieces? where are the songs? where are dances? i think every community has it. it would make a much more vibrant country and much more thriving if everybody could tap into that art. it would help in many ways get rid of some of the diction issues -- addiction issue, some of the people in violence. i'm pretty much convinced my great friend, michael mead, great storyteller, says, you know, if you don't turn the beauty in young people, you know, out, it will turn into violence. they all have beauty, just bring it out so it doesn't become a violet thing. so thank you, marching' that, for your work and those
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beautiful thoughts. >> host: next call comes from marta in lily, pennsylvania. marta, please go ahead with your question or comment. >> guest: my comment is i was watching booktv there and enjoying your talk and admiring what you've accomplished and what you expect to accomplish and how hard you're working to make the world a better place, and you got that phone call that was abusive, and i kind of got a little angry. i just wanted you to know that i do admire what you are doing, and i know there's a lot of people in this world who are praying that you will succeed in what you're trying to do in this world, because the world needs people like grow. thank you. >> guest: well, i appreciate that very much. i think, yeah, i think most people in this country are good hearted. i think most people in this country want the same thing. i don't believe that most people here are vindictive and mean, but we do have a fearful
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population, we do have people that are so disconnected they look at others -- i would say, again, going back to that young man who says he's from pacima, so disconnected from the world around him. get him to come to neighborhood, get him to come to tia chuchas. come to our open mic, and you can see all of the different people, some of the battered women who have a women's circle or women who just have issues or are just trying to relate. they are a women's circle writing. have him see that. have him see what's possible in spite of the pain, in spite of the traumas, in spite of all the injustices. because, again, you can't deny they don't exist. you can't say they're not there. but you have to turn all that into something that's powerful, that's meaningful, that's vital and help change all of that reality. >> host: luis rodriguez, an e-mail from oliver rosales.
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what are your thoughts on home boy industries, father greg boyle and replicating entrepreneurial activity among former gang members beyond l.a. oliver is e-mailing from bakersfield. first of all, what's home boy industries? >> guest: it's quite an amazing gang intervention/prevention program probably one of the best in the whole city of l.a. which as you know, after -- chicago and l.a. are known as the gang capital. father greg boyle is a good friend of mine. i respect him tremendously. because he didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk. he went into the neighborhoods, he talked to people. he saw these kids that didn't see a bunch of crazy, nutty, violent kids. he saw them as human beings caught in worlds that they had no understanding about and didn't know how to get out of. he gave them opportunities to gain skills, to get tattoo
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removals. the tattoos are extensive on their faces and hands, they can't get jobs. kids that are so addicted that they can't even think twice anymore. they will hurt their own families, who don't even feed their kids. he's helping them. i know, because i've worked there. i've helped mentor. i've seen the kids. these are hard core. and i've seen the changes. so i believe in his structure, the it's maybely jobs, entrepreneur -- mainly jobs. i think there's a lot of room in the economy for entrepreneurship spirit, setting up small businesses, helping people get going. i believe that there's a good way for that no happen. people say, well, i'm against business. i said i'm against the big corporate-controlled business. i'm against all of these big, giant financial institutions controlling everything. i'm saying giving it back to the people. there's artisans and great things, little shops, cultural spaces. people can create their own flavor, their own world. i totally believe in that. so i think father greg boyle and
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home boy industries are a great example. i support them, and i'm glad that it was brought up. >> host: when it comes to home boy industry, do they make things? is it an industrial -- >> guest: yeah. they have seven industries. they have a t-shirt making industry, they have a restaurant, they have a bakery, they have a café. they have a number of -- they make things, they sell things, they create their own art, their t-shirts are their own art to bring out to people. i have to mention my other good friend -- [inaudible] l. [speaking spanish] in santa cruz does the same thing, works with the hardened gang kids. he's got t-shirt shops, mechanics, there's all kinds of ways to get people involved. when i was young working in industry helped me. the fact the industry changed into something else, they helped me to use my hand, use my mentality to be a part of something. so i'm convinced that's a very powerful way to go. i think there's a lot of otherring things as well as that, but i think it's powerful to give people a sense that
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their own hands can create a business, maybe allow them to make a living when the rest of the industry cannot incorporate them. >> host: where is the home girl café. >> guest: it's right next to the home boy industries which is on the edge of chinatown in downtown l.a. now there are corporate gangs from all over, and wonderful, amazing food. i would definitely recommend it. go to homegirl café. now they have one, i think, in down up toty hall, and i heard they have one at the airport now. >> host: next call for luis rodriguez comes from rosemary in modesto, california. rosemary, please go ahead. >> caller: hi. hi, luis. i was a high school english teacher for 45 years, and you mentioned that kids often told you always running was the only book they ever read. i used to buy that book for by students, and rather than being the only book they ever read, it kind of, like, started them on reading. and after they read "always
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running," i could convince them to read almost any book that i had in my library because i'd given them a book that they could relate to, it had a great writing style, so thank you very much for that. you started a whole generation of readers from the publication of that book. and then -- >> guest: that's very good. >> caller: i noticed that one of your -- >> host: thank you a, rosemary. >> caller: one of your favorite authors was william stafford who is the poet laureate of oregon, and i'm a native oregonian, and i wondered how you learned about william stafford. >> guest: yes. well, first of all, just speaking on the book, one of the beautiful things that you're saying that i think is important is this doesn't have to be the only book people read, obviously. and i think all literature is important. when i say people need to read books that relates to them, doesn't mean they shouldn't read shakespeare or walt whitman or emily dickenson. sometimes you can't relate to
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hem, to another world, another time. i think when my book or a book like mine is people realize, wow, i can get in my story, i can resonate, but i can also learn from others. it does open up the world literature. i love reading books, all kinds of books. i read novels, short stories, poetry. i read all cultures. i'm very fond of native american writers as well as african-american writers and, of course, people like john fonte and, you know, james fair row and all these -- far row and all these great, you know, white writer. there's so many of them out there. so i would say open up the world to literature through this book. mentioned the second thing is -- >> host: you know what? i got busy, i let you do all the listening. it's my fault, roast marcy.
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thanks for calling in. we've talked quite a bit about always running and it calls you back, two of luis roll reese's -- rodriguez's best books. it calls you back goes on to talk about his life post post-gang and some of the issues that he faced there. the it was a finalist for the national book critics circle award. here's the cover. we want to show this to you. "it calls you back" is the booktv book club selection for may of 2014. if you pick up a copy and start reading, go to, you'll be able to post your thoughts and ideas about this book. we'll put up some discussion questions as we go, but for may 2014, luis j. rodriguez's "it calls you back" is our book club selection, and so you can begin reading that right now, and we'll start posting items on our web site tomorrow. you can go to,
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you'll see a little tab up there that says book club. we'll be posting this interview as well and some reviews, etc., some information about luis rodriguez. so go ahead and pick up a copy, and you can start reading that along with the rest of us. the next call comes from julie in paris, california. julie, please go ahead with your question or comment for luis rodriguez. >> caller: hello, mr. rodriguez. my name is julie, and i live out here in paris, california, in riverside county. i was raised and born in boyle heights. when my husband and i moved out here, we've noticed that here in riverside county is one of the largest hispanic growing areas here in california. but yet it's very hard to have people to rebelling ther the to vote. and i think that comes a lot
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from the parents. if they've never registered to vote, their children are never going to register to vote. my question to you is how do we get the people near liveside county -- riverside county to start to know that they do have a voice out here not only from the parents that are in their 50s and 60s, but now our early leaders that are going to be our leaders that are 20s and early 30s? what is your suggestion for us to do out here in -- [inaudible] >> guest: well, let me just say i think this may be a hard thing to put out. i think most people don't vote for good reason. they don't have much to vote for. and, again, if it's a two-party, limited situation, if it's just corporations, if it's just certain people speaking, you're not going to vote. i do think people should vote, and i do think it's important that they get out there and not -- and take advantage of the voting process. but they should also be thinking about people who run who
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represent their interest, who are really going to speak for them, who are not going to make deals, who are not going to take corporate money and, therefore, back off. i am a candidate that's dedicated to the community. i will not make any deals. i don't want no corporate donations. this puts me behind the 8 ball. i'm okay with that because i'm also pointing out this is what we need to do to have a little democracy. so what i would say is if people in california get to see my name on a ballot, vote for that other choice, vote for that voice because we need that. i can't do the big ads. i don't got $17, $20 million that the president governor of the state of california has. i can't do that, and i'm not going to do that. we need to do it grassroots. but i think the key thing is find meaningful candidates who represent them, who really see the issues and are not going to back off. they should be articulate, they should be knowledgeable, have real solutions. and that's what i think we're at, real answers to the issues we're facing.
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then i think people would vote. i think more latinos would be out there if they could see people that really represented them. that, to me, would be the way to do it. let's train young people. let's get people actively involved in the electoral process. otherwise i think you're going to see more people not voting. we have the lowest turnout of volume in the world practically in this country. so i would say keep training and developing and voting for people who represent those interests. >> host: the republic of east l.a. is also by luis j. rodriguez. what is in this book? >> guest: those are stories about boyle heights, east l.a., it's a community that is deepest in my heart because i moved into -- [inaudible] these communities in largest mexican community in the u.s. i mean, more than a million people are in east h.a.. some of the poorest neighborhoods, some of the nicest neighborhoods.
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so m of those neighborhoods are clean and beautiful, some of them are housing projects. there's about six housing projects. it's a rough place, but it's also a place of beauty. and i wanted to reflect both of it. to me, it isn't only that you show one end of it, you point out there's rough things, there's trauma, there's pain, there's ugly things, but there are also people who in spite of that have dignity, work hard, create, fight for social justice. you can have a fuller sense of who you are. so that's the republic of east l.a. a world in the united states that's not mexico, that's not quite full-on american. it's another world with its own culture similar to what you find in places like, you know, new orleans and other cultures. beautiful american cultures, but they're different. they have nuances that don't quite fit into -- >> host: who designed that? that's a great cover. >> guest: that's part of the
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culture that is very big in l.a. low riding came out of the mexican culture. now it's used in hip-hop. there is unity there. in japan there's a whole low rider culture where they actually buy low riders from l. a., ship them over there. now they have low rider stories and a magazine. so even people in other worlds can appreciate what we bring to the table. >> host: 202 is the area code, about 20 minutes left with our guest, luis j. rodriguez. 585-3880 in the east and central time zones, 585-3881 for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. because we are out here on the pacific coast, we are in sylmar california, we have a question here from another audience member. >> host: my name is ann job, and i live here in sylmar. and i'm thinking back to the beginning of this conversation when you were talking about how difficult it was for you as a child growing up brown in a
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really diverse community. and i grew up in a small town in georgia, and i'm white. finish and diversity was white and black where i grew up. and it's just heartbreaking to hear what you were going through, because i'm sure i was putting and my friends were putting other kids through that same, through that same difficulty that they did not deserve. so i believe in redemption. i believe totally in redemption, and i think about how close we got to losing you, how many times we might have lost you. and happily, you're here. but it's not just having lost you. think of all the people that a you've touched, that you've changed that we would have lost had you not been redeemed.
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and one of the comments that was made in a phone call was that said the world needs more people like you. and i would say more of us need to be like you. because we have the responsibility, too, to touch people's hives, to say -- lives, to say i don't care how often you disappoint me, i'm not going anywhere. i am going to be there. you will always be able to come to me. and we all need to be later luis rodriguez. a little luis rodriguez. >> well, that's very beautiful. you know, i -- that's why i think we've got to be more tolerant of people in trouble, more helpful, more resourceful to them. i was a juvenile -- in juvenile hall, people don't know this, the largest juvenile lock-up in north america is right five minutes from this place. and i go there pretty regularly to speak to kids, up to a thousand kids, you know? numbers always change.
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all poor, working class, vast majority mexicans and a good, large number of african-americans. i went there to a poetry festival recently. a writers' program does poetry the with the kids, and they had a beautiful reading. i did the keynote for them. so i'm there listening, and there was one kid, 14 years old, baby face, read ago poem. and his mother and grandmother were in the audience, they were proud of him. i thought it was a great poem, what a wonderful kid. i felt bad that he was there, i didn't know what he was there for. i never asked him. but somebody came up to me and just to make the point, that kid was facing 135 years in prison. and that really hurts me to hear that, because people don't know that this is happening in our country. they don't know because they just let the laws happen, they walk away. they think this is tough on crime. this can kid needs to be -- i don't care what he's done. he's redeemable too. even poetry could be his redeeming place.
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but we're throwing him away. that's what we do. so my whole thing don't throw away nobody. no matter how bad or rotten you think they are. nobody's really rotten. the idea is that we have all the capacity to do amazing things. we can do amazingly bad things, we can do amazingly bad things. a lot of it is is that turn, stories, things that happen that turn people one way or the other. i've been fortunate to have made the turn, but i'm also positively convinced that might be can make this -- anybody can make this turn. racist skinheads, people know about hem. they're in the prison system, you know? you think these are the worst people possibly, especially people of color. i have a good thing who i have to talk about kenneth hartman who's serving a life without possibility of parole here in lancaster prison. and he wrote a beautiful book about his life growing up in the
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foster care system, in the juvenile hall, in prison. he was arrested for murder when he was 17 years old for murdering a home he is man. he was a racist skinhead person. and you would think how could he be my friend? well, when i met him a few years ago when i was doing writing workshops in land lancaster pri. i went there for almost eight hours a day with these prisoners, level four. many lifers. i met kenneth hart match. and what a wonderful human being. after 35 years in prison, he's become a wonderful human being. he's no longer a racist skinhead. he's no longer -- he actually helped create the first -- [inaudible] of the state of california. people from different races respect him now. and he's become my friend. and i wish that he could be left free, because he would help this world. and yet the way the world, he'll never be let out. we won't ever consider it. i think this is where we've gone wrong. we've lost our sense of
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humanity. we become so scared of things that we lose our own hue -- iew manty. can't you relate to somebody that's hurting? can't you relate to somebody that's trying to do something? now, i know that's -- [inaudible] it's like the worst thing you could do. and even then that is a human being there. somebody worth working with, talking to and dealing with. so that they never, ever do it again. and actually somebody like him can come and talk to these other white kids. it's like i helped somebody get out of prison after 28 years. he was never going to get out. we wrote letters on his behalf. he came out and we told him, you've got to help people. we didn't just get you out because it's the nice thing to do. you've got to help people. he's in the communities, but of after five years lean. clean. and that's possible.
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>> reuben sandoval posts on our facebook page that he is a community college english composition professor, and he's used your books for many years. after reading so many students become inspired to examine their past with the intention of improving their future, going on to say that he emphasizes the fact that writing is easy when we tell the absolute truth. >> guest: wow, that's very powerful: i do think all these arts can be easy if attached to something that is inside of you. it has to echo from something deep. i did not know how to write, but i wrote. it was easy for me to write. getting the skills was something i needed to do. but the writing, the motivation to just tell a story was what's really the most important thing. this is why when i do any expressive writing workshop, i don't everyone size great -- emphasize great spill spelling
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skills. poetry is always truthful, and all these poems have to be truthful even if you change facts. even, you know, people say is that all true? it's all true. i didn't make up one thing in "always running." what i did do is change a few facts. i'm trying to protect people. i'm trying to -- so the facts don't have to be entirely right to be truthful. same with fiction books that are supposedly all paid up, but you get -- all made up, but you get a lot of truth in them. write, do art to be truthful to yourself, truthful to the world. >> host: luisj.edrodriguez is hs personal web site. next call comes frompqe0du;v ann california. andrea, please go ahead. >> caller: hi. i'm luis j. rodriguez's daughter -- [laughter] and i'm calling to just, yes.
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i'm just calling to let everyone foe that the family's sporting everything -- supporting everything that my dad's doing. but also i work as an educator in los angeles, and it's a parents' cooperative. and what we've seen more than anything is that there's not many examples of how to have a cooperative society. and so i think my dad is able to bring that vision to california. so i just wanted to tell him that we support him, and we love him. >> well, it's so important to have your family loving you and respecting you. it's been a long, hard road. and both ramiro and and -- [inaudible] have seen me that way. i wasn't really this bern that they could be proud of -- person that they could be proud of. i'm glad we got to this point. it took a long, hard struggle to get closer, but we have, and i have to give her credit.
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she was resentful, too, but she's accepted me, and i learned to accept her. and to me, that's important. what i'm trying to do, i think she's making a good point. one of the qualities i'm trying to bring in there is cooperation. i think we do much more better, much more meaningful work if we cooperate total together. let's just say somebody does a terrible crime. we have what's called restorative justice which actually has roots in native cosmologies and thinking and traditions where, okay, if you do a crime, you need to come back to the victims of that crime, you need to come back from the community you took from. help restore it, help bring it back to balance. that's what we do. we don't put them away. we don't just punish them. we don't just say you're no good and rotten and you're never going to be a part of our community ever again. we say come back to the community, come back to help fix what was broken. then you become stronger. one of the reasons why i never went back to crime, because i started helping other people stop getting involved with
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crime, helping them heal, helping them understand themselves and in the process i healed. when i mentioned youth, i became their student. you know the other thing i learned, and my own healing was connected to the healing of others. so, therefore, i don't have an interest now to hurt people, to commit crime, to do illegal things. i just have to interest. i -- no interest. i want to do possible, probable, amazing things with what we already have. and i think that's important. so i'm, thank you, andrea, mi i hija. thank you for being there always, she just had our fifth grandson, jack carlos. i'm really just, again, honored that my family could finally come together in spite of all the differences and pains. we're one big family together. >> host: how many kids all together? >> guest: five -- well, i'm getting mixed up. four kids, five grandkids and as of february, i have a great
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grandson now. >> host: luis rodriguez was born in el paso, texas, and our next call comes from grace in el paso, texas. grace, you're on booktv. >> caller: thank you. thank you so much. i just wanted to congratulate mr. rodriguez on his wonderful book, and we need, like the lady said before, we need more people like him and ask to be more like himself. try to help youth. but my question is, my ex-husband is in your baa linda -- yorba linda being looked after after he fell to drugs, unfortunately, and i just want to ask him how can i help him? he calls me from time to time, and i am telling him how proud i am and trying to be supportive, but what more can i do? what else can i do to help him so that he won't do it again? so that he can become -- because he's a wonderful man, it's just
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that, unfortunately, he's been on his own, and i moved to el paso. i came back to el paso again to raise my children, and i just want to do more. what can i do to help? >> guest: well, i think i'm always kind of -- my wife will say be you love him, just love him. you don't have to condone anything that people do. you don't have to accept the mutant part of them, the addictions, but you've still got to love them. you've got possible -- got to be able to say i love you and i don't want you this way. holding the ground for them doesn't mean you have to save them, doesn't mean you have to put that on you. that's too much. the work has to be done by the person that's trying to change. change is internal. i had to make my change. i couldn't put it on my wife, my kids. i had to do it. but what was really beautiful, they stood by me. they were responsive with love. they helped keep a loving environment.
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they'd give me the motivation, the whatever it is i needed to keep at this. so i'd love him, let him know you love him. don't mean you've got to take anything that's wrong. he needs to know that with changes within him and if he wants to be part of that love, then he should do proper changes so he can be back in the embrace of your love. so thank you for that. >> host: luis rodriguez, we have another questioner here at tia chucha's here. who is this that we're about to work? >> guest: this is the beautiful trini. i always say that because she's still beautiful. we've been together for almost 30 years, married for 24 year, and she runs everything. i say she runs -- she runs it with the staff. it isn't like she's a big lord over everything. but she has helped create this atmosphere, in this environment in which the staff still cooperate together, work together to share in this community building. so my beautiful wife, trini. >> host: please go ahead. >> thank you.
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yes, and it is good to be reminded to always say i love you, and i do love you, luis. i want to say that one of the things that's really inspiring is to see the things that have hurt us, the things that have been difficult are also the things that, again, as he's mentioned r the things that we should challenge ourselves to look at deeply because that's where the possibility lies of changing. and i know that all of us have things that, in our lives tar difficult. that are difficult. for myself i know that just being a woman in this society has had a number of limitations that we've been put under. my experience growing up was i had a loving family. i had a family that worked very hard and was, you know, aspired to fit in and do things the right way. i was a straight a student, but
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i have to say that all those things can be trappings if they don't, if they don't come from a place of strength and confidence and of real revealing of yourself. and so the unfortunate thing in my life was i decided to go to school, and it wasn't my understanding of my parents that a girl should go to school, and i was disowned because of the way i left the house. and that followed me for quite a long time. but i think that it's important for us to remember that even though those things can be put on us, we have to move away from them and realize who we are. there's been a lot of messings, luis, my husband, but also the staff that we have to that continue to go beyond our limitations and really realize where we come from.
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it's -- so anyway, i just want to say thank you and thank you to c-span opinion allowing in the to happen -- for allowing this to happen. it's always important for us as women to remember that we are not less, we are more than we think we can be, and we just have to keep moving towards that. and it's an inspiration to watch people who do that like my husband. >> host: trini rodriguez before you leave, where were you raised? >> i was raised here in california primarily. i did grow up, part of my life i started in mexico. i was born here, but when i was one and a half, i lived for a year and a half in mexico and became very chose to my grandparents. it's something that has taught me a lot about, you know, the importance of elders, the importance of unconditional love, that it's good to have because when things do get difficult, you have to remember that you were valued at one time
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completely and fully. and if we tap into that, something that can carry us a long way. >> host: are you a writer at all, or do you work luis rodriguez, with his writing at all? >> i am a writer. i don't always think of myself as a writer. but, thankfully, i tapped back into that writing reservoir, and it's a beautiful thing. it's a beautiful thing. i write with a women's group here, called in the words of women, and it's something that has touched a lot of women, including myself. >> host: you have two kids together, correct? >> guest: yes. >> host: and what are their names? >> reuben joaquin and also luis jacinto rodriguez. >> host: and how old are they and where are they right now? >> well, one of them, reuben, is going to school at ucla right now, an english major. and also i have another son, we call him chito, and he is, 19,
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and he just decided that uc riverside was not for him at the moment, but he's, continues to write. he's writing a few plays right now, or rather, what is it -- i forget what they're called. myway, he's writing two different -- anyway, he's writing two different pieces right now. and he's quite a writer as well. >> host: luis rodriguez. >> guest: yes. wow, i mean, you know, it's kind of strange to go out on national tv and then have all this family stuff come up. but i think it's important. it's important. we come from a lot of hurt. there's a lot of rough things, and in my book dealing with my father, the things he did to my family, my own damage that i did to others, and trini suffered a lot. but i think what's, again, important we all can come
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together. we all can make it work. and it takes courage, it takes character, it takes dignity. these are will that we all have within our hands. i really think it's important what she's pointed out about women. what trini represents is a lot of women who got lost. she didn't do defiant things. he went by, but inside she was dying inside. there's a lot of women who do that. my daughter calls it being compliant instead of defiant. and they're both unhealthy. it's not a fullness, and i think she's speaking to that. and i think it's important for women to be given that understanderring and a sense that they do -- understanding that they do have a sense of power. and when they're not being heard, that they can fight in a way with their words, expressiveness, their organizational capacity, whatever they have to make that way for themselves. so i'm honored that my wife is also part of this great movement. i say it's a movement because
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it's a movement for our humanity. it's a movement for economy, and institutional and governance that aligns to that, not to who's got the money, who's got the power and who's going to take more of this everett than the rest of us. i think we all have an obligation to take care of each other and take care of the earth, take care of creation as well as us as self-creators as much as possible. >> host: and a lot of the family stuff and other issues that we have discussed, luis rodriguez writes about in his books. we want to close with this from "hearts and hands: creating community in violent times," "indifference is a greater force to overcome than evil intent. once again "it calls you back," national book critics' circle award winner is booktv's book club selection for the month of may. go ahead and pick it up. you can pick it up at ti
3:00 am, and start reading, and join us at book club, and we'll be posting discussion questions, etc. you can share your thoughts there as well. luis j. rodriguez, thanks for being with us on booktv. >> guest: it was my honor. >> host: thank you for hosting us.


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